The Digital Right to Repair Coalition was officially incorporated in July of 2013 as a 501 (c) 6 Trade Association. We chose to be a Trade Association and not a Chairty because our primary intent is to lobby for repair-friendly legislation, standards, and regulations. Repair.Org is 100% membership funded.
Founding members include the Service Industry Association (SIA), the Association of Computer Dealers Inc (ASCDI) and their partner National Assocaition of Telecommunications Dealers (NATD), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and iFixit.org. Since our founding, we have added hundreds of new members across dozens of industries all advocating for our collective Right to Repair.
We purchase the URL Repair.Org in 2016 and now use the simpler title “The Repair Association” in our advocacy.
WHY DO WE FIGHT?
Jobs. Right to Repair is an existential fight for all businesses offering any form of independent repair, reuse, or resale service. If the consumer is not allowed to do their own repairs, or to seek independent help — there are no repair jobs.
Electronic Waste. Repair is also a critical function for all forms of re-use and even extended useful life. Products that cannot be repaired become instant electronic-waste.
Value. Products that cannot be repaired also lose nearly all value in the used marketplace.
Owners Rights. Centuries of law tell us that buying something transfers control of that item from seller to buyer. When contracts fail to cede full control to the buyer — the legal rights of owners are damaged.
Since roughly 1998 repair monopolies have been creeping into every product with a digital part over the past 20 years. These practises are now so pervasive that we estimate 90% of all OEMS now routinely monopolize repair.
Evidence of the degree of monopolization and devastating impacts were presented by Repair.Org in July of 2019 at their Nixing the Fix Workshop. All testimony and filings are publicly available at the FTC Website.
Since our founding in 2013, we have passed cell phone unlocking in Congress, put dozens Right to Repair bills into state legislatures, and won exemptions from the Librarian of Congress for repair and tinkering of cell phones, tablets, medical equipment, and motorized land vehicles.
The Repair Association has also become the leading resouce for researchers, policy wonks, standards bodies, and federal, state, and local legislators in the US and Canada. We have counterpart organizations allied with us in the EU and Asia-Pacific.
Milestones since July of 2013:
2014 Automotive Right to Repair Memorandum of Understanding is announced.
2015 Repair.org puts 40,000 letters of support in front of the Librarian of Congress for repair-related exemption requests. LOC rules in favor of repair and tinkering of tractors, and more.
2016 Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Tennessee and Missouri file new bills
2017 Hawaii, New Jersey, New Hampshire file new bills
2018 Vermont, Illinois, Washington, Virginia and California file new bills
2019 Twenty states filed repair-friendly legislation in 2019 including new filings from West Virginia, Oregon, Indiana, North Dakota and Georgia.
2019 Nearly 80,000 individuals have advocated with us in state legislatures. Over 350 businesses and organizations have joined Repair.Org.
The pre-history of legislative and legal attempts to protect right to repair follow:
Repair Monopoly Timeline
1956 The IBM Consent Decree The US DOJ Anti-Trust Division found IBM to be a monopoly and required them to allow for a used equipment market and independent repair. The Consent Decree was not lifted until 1996. The computing industry rapidly re-monopolized once the threat of DOJ action was lifted.
1992 Kodak V Image Technical Services Supreme Court ruling requires Kodak cease monopolizing repair. This ruling is almost the entire body of anti-trust law related to repair until the 2012 case of AVAYA v Continuant.
2001 Motor Vehicles Right to Repair Act S.2617 Filed in 107th Congress The first of many attempts by the automotive aftermarket to restore independent repair. It took a State Law passed in Massachusetts in 2012 to spur the industry to cooperate.
2008 Supreme Court Okays Cellphone Unlocking The cell phone unlocking battle spurs owners rights, digital rights advocates, and ordinary citizens to further action.
2010 Oracle blocks independent repair for SUN equipment, creating the impetus for enterprise computer industry action. The Service Industry Association creates their International Customer Competitiveness Committee (ICCC) which is set off as the Digital Right to Repair Coalition in 2013.
2012 SIA-ICCC Members meet with the US DOJ Anti-Trust Division on the matter of restoring competition for repair of Oracle equipment. The DOJ advises that with so many OEMS doing much the same thing — we should be seeking a legislative solution.
2012 Automotive Right to Repair Passes Unanimously in the MA Legislature The bill showed us how right to repair can be approached in states. Planning begins for creating an umbrella organization to manage advocacy — which is incorporated in mid-2013.
2012 Cell Phone Unlocking Becomes Illegal This gets a lot of people upset, including our own Sina Khanifar who inspired 116,000 people to contact the White House demanding their right to unlock their phones.
2012 Supreme Court rules in favor of used market in Kirtsaeng v Wiley Advocates from ASCDI, eBay, EFF and many others file critical Amicus Briefs on this matter.
2013 Unlocking Cell Phone Petition gets attention in Congress and the White House and is eventually passed into law in 2014.
2013 AVAYA v Continuant Trial Finds AVAYA in Violation of Anti-Trust This case is the first since "Kodak" that specifically dealt with monopolization of repair. The Jury found AVAYA to be using their market power to compel a repair monopoly. The case was overturned on Appeal due to a technical matter in 2016.
COPYRIGHT LAW and RIGHT TO REPAIR
In 1998 the US Congress modernized copyright law in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which attempted to better protect digital content. Although it was written largely by the content industry, it included a new section (Section 117) pulled from The Computer Maintenance Competition Assurance Act intended to preserve the option of independent repair. Section 117 was included with notes that indicated it wasn't complete (it wasn't). Section 1201 - the famous "Anti-Circumvention" provision has effectively overwhelmed Section 117.
The DMCA of 1998 gave new monopoly power to any manufacturer smart enough to claim copyright protection for any tools or access. Most manufacturers were more than happy to claim protections even if there was no infringement because of the clear profit potential of destroying competition for both repair and competition from their own used equipment.